FACED WITH A CHOICE between ideological, right-wing leaders and conventional, middle-road Republicans, GOP officials in Maryland have wisely picked proven centrists to re-shape the party's Senate caucus.
First, Republican senators unanimously elevated Sen. F. Vernon Boozer of Baltimore County to the post of minority leader, replacing the late Sen. John A. Cade. Then Anne Arundel County's Republican Central Committee overwhelmingly chose former county executive Robert R. Neall for Mr. Cade's vacant Senate seat. Both were common-sense moves: The two conservatives should give the undermanned GOP more leverage in shaping legislation in Democratic Annapolis.
Die-hard right-wingers protested the Neall pick. They even made the ridiculous assertion that the decidedly conservative Mr. Neall was actually a liberal and that his decades of building the Anne Arundel GOP into a dominant force showed insufficient devotion to the cause.
Such doctrinaire fanaticism could render the Maryland GOP a permanent minority. Only Mr. Neall, with his vast fiscal experience, could jump into the Senate and immediately assert fiscal leadership. Similarly, only Mr. Boozer has the pragmatism and respect of Democratic leaders to be an effective minority leader.
Senate Republicans could have opted for a right-wing conservative leader, but they recognized the importance of picking a centrist such as Mr. Boozer, who has shown he can get Republican ideas incorporated into bills on the Senate floor and in committee. In other words, Republicans need practical politicians, not quixotic ideologues.
Pub Date: 12/10/96